Something that is truly beautiful about hunting is that there are so many illustrations that reflect God, his nature, his grace, and even the gospel. There’s one illustration that I hope to be able to use that trumps all the rest when it comes to teaching my family through the outdoors. This, of course, is subordinate to clearly communicating the gospel with them, but next to understanding the good news of Jesus, it can have one of the greatest impacts in their lives.
It seems like everything is connected in the outdoors. When it comes to deer hunting, simply sitting in a stand with the wrong wind direction can destroy an entire hunting trip. If we’re talking ducks, missing the migration by a day or so can mean going home empty handed. Even in fishing, choosing the wrong color lure can be the difference between your buddy getting the bragging rights and you having to eat crow. Every decision we make in the outdoors has an impact on something in some way.
On a more human level, leaving one gate open can be the difference between having a lease one year and not having it the next. Making time to call a landowner throughout the year could solidify your hunting spot for years. Failing to do so could allow someone to knock on the door with just the right amount of money to gain themselves a new lease.
Proverbs 12:28 ESV says, “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway is no death.” The path of righteousness is God’s path. He makes that path known to us. When we know his way, the choices we make have lasting consequences. The same is true on the other side of the coin.
One season, I can remember hunting a farm where the harvest goals were very unclear. Several of the men had ideas of their own about what should killed, when, how, and all sorts of other things, but very little of it was being communicated well, nor was any of it really agreed upon by the entire hunting group. Being a young, and relatively new hunter, I chose to shoot an immature buck. I had no idea how much it would effect the dynamics of the entire season for the other men that were hunting the farm. Several of them got very angry with me and made sure I knew it. Others discussed the issue with the landowner privately. It was my fault. If I had simply held to killing only a mature buck, which in all honesty was all any of them wanted, the crisis could have been averted. My choice actually caused a ripple effect that would ultimately end with several of them never hunting the farm again.
I want my family to see that killing a deer or turkey doesn’t just give us food to eat and something to remember a hunt by. I want them to understand that the decision made by choosing to squeeze the trigger effected us, the flock or herd, and it effects on the ecosystem around that animal. My goal then, is to translate that understanding into the realization that the choices we make, or fail to make, effect us, our relationships with others, and the world beyond them.
Everything we do has a consequence. It could be a positive consequence or a negative consequence. All of those consequences effect us, whatever we come in contact with, and then whatever it comes in contact with. The sin we commit and the godly obedience we follow through with has a much longer lasting effect than we could ever realize.